New CVE partnership offers comprehensive diagnostics for smarter programming

By Jillian Slutzker

May 30, 2017

AARHUS, Denmark — A new partnership between Creative Associates International and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) will offer a comprehensive methodology to municipal leaders to diagnose and address local risks and resiliencies around violent extremism.

Announced May 17 at the Strong Cities Network Global Summit and the Building Resilience to Radicalisation and Violent Extremism II conference, the joint risk assessment methodology developed by Creative and the ISD will provide support to the Strong Cities Network —a global network of mayors, policy-makers and practitioners from more than 100 cities united in building social cohesion and resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.

“Creative is extremely honored to partner with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue on this risk assessment framework in support of the Strong Cities Network.”

Tom Wheelock, Senior Vice President of Creative and Senior Director of the Communities in Transition Division

“Creative is extremely honored to partner with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue on this risk assessment framework in support of the Strong Cities Network. This will help to support cities in the local action planning process,” said Tom Wheelock, Senior Vice President of Creative and Senior Director of its Communities in Transition Division at the Strong Cities Network Steering Committee meeting.

The partnership brings together Creative’s 40 years of evidence-based, on-the-ground work in conflict and transitioning areas—including supporting Quranic schools in Nigeria to integrate quality basic education, improving workforce development systems in Afghanistan, and implementing programs to prevent and counter violent extremism—with the ISD’s 10 years of pioneering research, global policy advisory, local capacity building, educational programming and communications work in the P/CVE and counter-polarization domain.

The two organizations will work together to help cities more accurately diagnose the push and pull factors of violent extremism—from the marginalization of citizens in local governance systems to the ideological appeal of violent extremist groups. The joint methodology will also help cities identify existing strengths and resiliencies within a community that can help prevent and counter the threat.

Sasha Havlicek, CEO of the London-based ISD, which leads the Strong Cities Network, noted that this joint assessment will help cities to better understand the range of dynamics at play in their communities around radicalization to violent extremism.

“We are very excited to be building out and combining the expertise that ISD has with Creative’s expertise in looking at both the push and the pull factors around radicalization… and developing a state of the art local risk assessment framework so that cities can be supported with that process,” said Havlicek.

This analysis will allow leaders to develop tailored Local Action Plans to prevent and counter violent extremism and increase their chances of targeting the right sources of vulnerability or strength.

“Local efforts and local communities are the starting point,” Creative’s Wheelock said to the 25-member International Steering Committee representing cities from the Caribbean to Middle East and beyond. “What may work in Tunisia doesn’t necessarily apply for CVE in Pakistan. And this is where the local planning process comes in. It is tailored to your municipalities.”

The assessment also serves as a baseline for cities to evaluate the effectiveness of their ongoing efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism over time.

At a later conference workshop on May 18, Kim Field, Creative’s Director of Countering Violent Extremism, told city representatives and CVE practitioners that this diagnostic phase is essential to effective programming.

“It’s very important to gather all that data together, to start off with that task and purpose and then lead into a very deliberate planning process,” said Field.

Diagnosing and addressing the push and pull factors

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Debby Kimble, Director of Governance and Community Resilience at Creative, explains the importance of diagnosing sources of both fragility and resilience in a community for more effective programming.

At a joint session called “Does Your City Really Need CVE?” on May 18, practitioners from the two organizations presented the joint diagnostic methodology, which draws on the ISD’s pull factors analysis of history, culture, ideology and identity surrounding recruitment and Creative’s Fragility and Resilience Assessment Method (FRAMe).

Developed by Creative and the International Peace and Security Institute, Creative’s Governance FRAMe is a mapping tool that assesses the sources and dynamics of community fragility as well as the efficacy of governance systems, including local government, the private sector, the judicial system and others.

It allows leaders to identify and address weaknesses that may push certain groups or a community toward increased vulnerability to violent extremism.

“What we do know is that there are some things around violence in communities that are anchored back to grievances,” said Debby Kimble, Director of Governance and Community Resilience at Creative.

The assessment employs a Likert scale that provides a standardized lens through which to analyze eight functional dimensions of governance, such as rule of law and fiscal management, and seven stability factors, such as social cohesion or civic infrastructure. It aggregates data by identity group to better pinpoint sources of vulnerability or strength and group dynamics.

“What we developed is a means by which to begin to understand a diverse community, a way to understand the citizens’ reality and their sense of the governance,” said Kimble, describing FRAMe. “How does good governance create a more resilient community, but more importantly, how do we measure that?”

Providing this type of data-driven analysis of the push factors toward violent extremism, coupled with the ISD’s expertise in the pull factors will help cities design and implement more effective CVE programming, added Rebecca Skellett, Manager of the Strong Cities Network.

“This is really at the heart of what we try to do for the Strong Cities Network,” she said. “There has to be a foundation for the understanding of risk to be able to have a meaningful impact against violent extremism.”

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